NFL decision, training loom for Kent
Schooled in basketball and track, multisport Duck aims at the pros
EUGENE -Soon after the Las Vegas Bowl, in the days before Christmas, Jordan Kent expects to make an announcement.
For now, the Oregon receiver will not say whether he plans to pursue an NFL career. He's definitely leaning toward training for it. If not, he'll play basketball for his father after the Dec. 21 football game against Brigham Young.
'If football is something I want to do, I have to get started training right away,' he says. 'It'd be nice to have it on my mind going into the holiday.
'I have to understand the possibilities, and take it one step at a time.'
Kent started playing football last season for the Ducks, after growing up running and jumping in track and field and playing basketball - both sports leading him to the University of Oregon.
Coach Mike Bellotti remembers telling Kent, son of basketball coach Ernie Kent, that he could be a good receiver in football, and that he could be a better pro prospect in football than the other two sports. Kent finally decided to give it a go in summer 2005, and he became a scholarship football player.
Kent has made some plays, scored some touchdowns and showed his running and jumping ability. He would be an NFL project, and he knows it.
The Ducks have about 10 players who could either be drafted by an NFL team or who could sign a free-agent contract.
'He's the X factor,' Bellotti says, of Kent. 'He's a new guy to the landscape of football. He has a great work ethic, and he has some things that you look for - starting with 6-5 height and 4.3 speed (in the 40-yard dash).'
Kent says he would not be able to train for football and play basketball at the same time.
'No way you could do both,' he says. 'If you want to give yourself the best shot in football, you could train in town, but I'm thinking about going out of town - fewest distractions possible. Everybody else will be doing it, and it's an intense focus for six to eight weeks.'
He's trying to nail down 'how legitimate of a shot I have in football' versus mere potential.
Lingering in the back of Kent's mind is his value to the basketball team - a hustler, scrapper, rebounder and athlete - and his itch to compete in basketball and track and field.
'I'd play however many minutes they gave me, or I'd be a practice player,' says Kent, if he joined the basketball team now.
The Ducks beat Nebraska last weekend to improve to 7-0, and Maarty Leunen, Joevan Catron and Mitch Platt have been playing well in the frontcourt. Still, Kent's father would welcome him in any capacity.
Kent still would try to play pro in basketball overseas or run track and field if he chose not to pursue football.
'I want to pick a career that allows me to play as long as I can,' he says. 'If you supposedly have a chance at the NFL, why not try it? I'm so new at it, I see improvement every day.'
Kent also excelled at academics, graduating last spring. He's focused on helping the Ducks (7-5) end their three-game bowl losing streak - 2002 Seattle Bowl, 2003 Sun Bowl, 2005 Holiday Bowl - and three-game overall losing streak this season.
'We know we're a way better team than our record,' he says. 'This is a time to validate. The beauty of college football is you can end your season with a win. With finals over, and the fact the game is before Christmas, the guys are excited. They want to go out and perform.'